Mumbai Police has withdrawn police protection provided to 54 VIPs and has downgraded security of 24 others, reports Mumbai Mirror.
Realising security cover has become nothing more than a fashion accessory for several celebrities and politicians, the security protection has been either withdrawn or downgraded.
Five Bollywood personalities have lost their security. They are Karan Johar, Firoz Nadiadwala, Himesh Reshammiya, Vivek Oberoi and Pritish Nandy. Superstar Shah Rukh Khan's security has been downgraded. From four policemen on rotation duty, he will now have only two.
Some other names on the list include former IPL chairman Lalit Modi's son Ruchir and daughter Aliya, Narayan Rane's PAs Ravi Kamath and Ravi Shedge, Balasaheb Thackeray's PA Ravindra Mhatre and politician-turned-reality-star Rahul Mahajan.
Among those whose security has been downgraded are Lalit Modi and his wife Minal; former home minister Jayant Patil's family; lawyer Majid Memon; and politicians Nawab Malik and Suresh Prabhu.
The information, sought by this paper through an RTI application, also shows that two builders - who are known to provide information about other builders to gangster Ravi Pujari - enjoyed police security. Their security, along with 13 other builders, has now been removed.
The decision was taken in a meeting of senior officers at the Protection Branch after it was found that several actors, politicians and builders were enjoying security despite there being no clear and present threat to their lives.
"For each policeman deployed to protect a personality, the public exchequer spends Rs 17,000 a month," said an officer from the Protection Branch. "By that account, over Rs 25 lakh was being spent every month on these 54 people. Close to Rs 10 lakh has been saved by downgrading the security of 24 people," he added.
The RTI reply says that immediately after the protection was withdrawn, at least 11 people made official applications for a review based on alleged fresh threats. "And those are just official figures.
Our phone lines are inundated with calls from people claiming to have received fresh threats. Many of these claims are either plain lies or self-generated threats.
Roaming around with police protection has become a status symbol for many people. It is taking a toll on the force which is already reeling under a shortage of manpower," added another senior officer.
There are also several businessmen and policemen who enjoyed state security and have now been taken off the list.
This includes former city police commissioner D N Jadhav, former BEST chief Uttam Khobragade and police inspector Praful Bhosale, who was suspended after the custodial death of Ghatkopar blast accused Khwaja Yunus.